The inevitable consequence of urban sprawl is traffic congestion. Every day, millions of commuters head to the highways and inner city roads to pack the transit lanes to bursting point.
Vehicles slow to a crawl during the twice-daily peak-hour sessions. Not only is productivity crushed and a lot of time wasted, but extended time on the road during peak hour traffic is responsible for releasing a few extra tons of greenhouse gases into an already taxed atmosphere.
Electric scooters may not be the complete solution to the UKs growing congestion problems, but they could play a small part in a multi-pronged approach.
Public Transport is Only a Partial Solution
Increasing the use of public transport is only a partial solution. If people were to abandon their cars en masse and jump on a train or bus, the public transport system would soon be overrun.
Billions of dollars would need to be siphoned off into expanding the public transport network. Even then, the most likely outcome would be a transfer of congestion from one system to another.
There is still the problem of getting around the city once you arrive because public transport rarely drops you at the front door of your intended destination.
Congestion Charges Have Proven Ineffective
Congestion levies on private cars have not helped London's traffic congestion problem. In 2003, vehicles travelled at an average speed of 10.9mph. In 2015 the average speed had dropped to 8.3mph. The speed decrease is despite private cars only accounting for around 1 in 20 people entering the city. [*1]
Electric Scooters and Micro Mobility
Micro-mobility may pose at least a partial solution to the growing congestion. Instead of calling for an Uber to get across town, an electric scooter presents a quick, efficient, and cost-effective means of getting around the city.
For instance, the Xiaomi scooter is capable of speeds up to 15mph and can travel up to 18 miles between charges. This top speed means that the Xiaomi scooter is faster than the average speed of a vehicle making its way through congested city traffic, even if it doesn’t achieve its top speed.
It’s light enough to carry and cuts the average 2-mile pedestrian journey from 30 minutes to just 8 minutes -and all without the sweat. Electric scooters also take up little room in traffic lanes and pose much less of a parking challenge.
Minimal power is needed to charge the scooters, and they are small enough to store out of the way once the traveler arrives at their destination - more so than cars at any rate.
Of course, electric scooters come with their own set of problems, and there is no pretending that they can fix the congestion problem in the UK's urban areas all on their own.
However, with the right planning and smart infrastructure, the UK could learn from other cities of the world and take steps to reduce inner-city congestion by promoting more environmentally friendly modes of transport.